By - Adedoyin Shittu
Professor Yemi Osinbajo has been more than the number two citizen of Nigeria, he has been the poster face of the Buhari campaign and the winning chip that swung the odds in to Buhari’s favour both for the first and second election win. Not only is Yemi Osinbajo a Southerner Christain who happens to be the pastor of the largest pentecostal church in Nigeria (Redeemed Christian Church of God), he is a man of intellectual depth and also speaks eloquently about the administration’s economic policies.
For a while now, it would seem VP Osinbajo has lost his shine and there have been allegations and corruption scandals levelled against him all in an attempt to remove him from the number two position. The plot to impeach him or humiliate him into resigning has thicken once again. In fact, Nigerian Tribune, a popular Nigerian Newspaper reported during the weekend that a replacement for VP Yemi Osinbajo has been shopped in the person of Tunde Bakare, this replacement also happen to be from the same SouthWest region as Osinbajo and not coincidentally, he happens to be a popular pastor too.
Since their joint victory in 2015, President Buhari and his vice, Yemi Osinbajo had shared a warm relationship and everything seems to be intact despite the fog of uncertainty surrounding the fate of Osinbajo. However the cabal in the Aso Villa are bent on sowing seeds of discord into the relationship for their own selfish interest. This powerful cabal have been labelled as stronghold and obstacle in the Buhari government; though not elected by the masses, they are ruling the affairs of the nation. The wife of the president, Aisha Buhari once lamented that the cabal had hijacked her husband government and referred to them as “hyenas” and “jackals” of the Lion King. Notable mentions of the cabal directing the affairs of Nigeria is Abba Kyari – Buhari Chief Of Staff (COS), Mamman Daura and Ismaila Funtua. It is alleged that Abba Kyari is the face of this cabal.
The 80 years old Chief of Staff has successfully wielded his influence to the seat of power that his word is law and anyone who dared to go against his interest is uprooted immediately. His influence is such that he could stop anyone from seeing the President no matter how highly placed and no matter the urgency of the situation. Kyari strong grip on the administration is so much that in virtually all President Buhari’s appointments he has a significant input and before Buhari announces any major government contract to the public, it must be approved by Kyari.
He has been pickpointed in many happenings in the presidency since the beginning of this administration; he was the one that tendered Buhari’s WAEC Certificate in court on behalf of the President; he summons top military chiefs and signs sensitive documents binding on Nigeria. The recent ministers inaugurated by this administration have been made to report to him, and his mood and disposition toward a minister would determine if such a person would receive his cooperation to see the President. It is feared by many that Kyari has been behind most of the ethnocentric and parochial policies and appointments of President Buhari in the last four years. The office of the Chief of Staff is not recognised by the Nigerian Constitution, is it logical that the Chief of Staff now wield that much power?
It is said that the cabal in the Villa are implacably opposed to the idea of a power shift to the South and are plotting to have Yemi Osinbajo sidelined in the 2023 presidential race because his name has featured frequently and prominently in the 2023 presidential permutations, though the vice president is yet to make any comment about running for president. Osinbajo slowly but steadily has won the heart of many Northerners and this has become a threat to the 2023 ambition of the cabal and they will do anything to truncate that.
VP Osinbajo alleged “sins” against the “Cabal”
Ironically decisions that made Osinbajo popular among the masses when he acted in the capacity of the president while President Buhari was away on medical vacation in the UK angered the cabals. During this period, the positive change could be felt by Nigerians and even the Naira appreciated against the dollar. Many even clamour that Buhari should remain in the UK with pay of course while his vice continues to handle the leadership in Nigeria.
The first “unforgivable” sin was the confirmation of Justice Walter Onnoghen as the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN). Walter Onnoghen was the first southerner to be appointed into the position of CJN in nearly 30 years. Mr. Onnoghen, a native of Cross River state, was first appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari as acting CJN on November 10, 2016 after the retirement of former CJN, Mahmoud Mohammed. When it was clear that his role as acting CJN would expire without confirmation, Osinbajo forwarded his name to the Senate for confirmation. This did not go down well with the cabal and they eventually plotted his removal in an unconstitutional manner before the election. His independent-mindedness is said to have scared the cabal. Onnoghen had presided over Supreme Court judgments that did not favour the cabal, notably that of the former President of the Senate Bukola Saraki. Onnoghen was accused of not declaring his assets and was suspended on controversial circumstances.
Sack of the former Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS) Lawal Daura is another move of the VP which blacklisted Osinbajo in the cabal book. Mr Daura was one of the untouchables and a member of the cabal. When it was discovered that the former DSS boss spear-headed the invasion of the National Assembly to allegedly effect a change of leadership, Osinbajo ordered his sack and went ahead to appoint Matthew Seiyafa from Bayelsa State as Acting DSS Director General. Mr. Seiyefa was the most senior official at the SSS after Mr Daura. With about 34 years experience and he has served in different capacities. Mr Seiyafa time as the DSS boss would be brief as he was quickly removed by President Buhari and replaced with Yusuf Bichi, who had already retired. Presidency sources noted that the Vice President was not forgiven for daring to move so decisively against Daura.
Vice President Osinbajo also presided over the Special Presidential Panel that indicted cabal member and former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Babachir Lawal, for the grass-cutting contract scandal leading to his sack from office and replacement by his cousin, Mr. Boss Mustapha.
Another letdown by Osinbajo towards the cabal was his public denial of the RUGA policy. Ruga is said to be the brainwork of the core North elites and an attempt to tighten their grip on the nation by settling their people in every state in the federation. However, this plan failed, especially in the southern state when Osinbajo denied any knowledge of such a scheme.
Strategies taken to undermine the office of the VP
There is a desperation to whittle down the power of the office of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and ultimately humiliate him or impeach him out of office and this plans has gathered momentum in recent days. Already there are news of alleged corruption scandals, all in a bid to tarnish the Osinbajo image.
On September 16, President Muhammadu Buhari replaced the Economic Management Team (EMT) headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo with an Economic Advisory Council (EAC) under the chairmanship of Prof. Doyin Salami. Announcing the constitution of the EAC in a statement, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina stated, “the Economic Advisory Council will advise the President on economic policy matters, including fiscal analysis, economic growth and a range of internal and global economic issues working with the relevant cabinet members and heads of monetary and fiscal agencies.” He also said, the council will be reporting directly to the President.
Under different administration since the advent of democracy in 1999, vice presidents had been heading the economic team of the president and it was unconstitutional for the president to strip the VP from that role.
Also, President Buhari has instructed Osinbajo to seek approvals for agencies under his supervision henceforth. Osinbajo is the chairman of the governing boards of the National Emergency Management Agency, the National Boundary Commission, the Border Communities Development Agency and the Niger Delta Power Holding Company Ltd. With this directive, he will now have to seek approvals for contract awards, annual reports, annual accounts, power to borrow, and power to make regulations among other key functions. This is supposed to be the number two man in the federation.
Other actions that have been done to humiliate the Vice President include the sack of his associates from government and the plan not to renew the tenure of the present Chairman of the Federal Internal Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Babtunde Fowler. Mr Fowler was a member of Osinbajo Economic Management Team.
Plan to robe VP Osinbajo in corruption allegations
In August 2019, the Executive Chairman of the FIRS, Mr. Babatunde Fowler, got a query from Chief of Staff to the President Abba Kyari. The query issued to the agency’s was due to the inability of the agency to meet revenue projection target, the Chief of Staff also requested the FIRS Chairman to explain significant variances in targets and actual collections. It was said that the query was just a ploy to ridicule Mr Fowler and tarnish Osinbajo reputation by the cabal. The cabal’s interest in Fowler was equally due to his closeness to the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
The game to unseat Fowler and rubbish Osinbajo continued this week when Mr Timi Frank, A political activist and former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), said the ongoing travails of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is allegedly due to corruption.
In a statement on Monday, September 23, Mr Frank said that from a reliable source in the presidency, FIRS had released N90 Billion to Osinbajo for the 2019 election to be used in favour of the APC in strategic states in the SouthWest and this fund was mismanaged by Osinbajo. According to Frank, “The cabal is asking to know how come they beat PDP in the South-west with less than 60,000 votes if the money was actually spent in the strategic states of the South-west as allegedly claimed.”
The activist insisted that if the information is true, Osinbajo must resign from his position as Vice President, adding that such is akin to the characteristics of ‘yahoo boys.’ “How do we expect the ‘yahoo boys’ to change when the VP is their chairman? Nigerians must not feel sorry for Osinbajo as the time to pay for his yahoo yahoo activities has come. “If he fails to resign, the National Assembly must begin the process of impeachment against him as a matter of urgency to prove to Nigerians that 9th Assembly is not a rubber stamp of the executive.”
Quickly FIRS reacted to the allegation, Wahab Gbadamosi, the FIRS’ director of information, claimed that the service’s annual allocation is not even up to the said amount and accused Frank of seeking cheap popularity, adding that it would file a libel suit if he refuses to tender an apology in three major newspapers within the next 24 hours. “The entire allegation being spread by one Frank Timi that the Federal lnland Revenue Service spent N90 billion to fund the last election is mendacious, wicked, malicious and a calculated attempt to smear the image of the Service and that of his Excellency, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.”
As the plot to retain power in the North come 2023 thickens, the cabal who see Osinbajo as a threat to their greedy and reckless ambition have made it a duty to strip him of even peripheral responsibilities and consign him to the desk of irrelevance or to sidetrack him to the role of condolence visits and food-sampling in markets. They also want to frustrate the suspected presidential ambition of Osinbajo and paint him as a corrupt person who should not be trusted by the political class.
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